Monday, August 8, 2011

Lieberman wants Israel to cut PA ties over 'planned bloodshed'

TEL AVIV // Israel's foreign minister yesterday demanded that Israel cut off all its contacts with the Palestinian Authority, which he accused of preparing for unprecedented "bloodshed" as part of its bid to gain international recognition of its independent statehood.

Avigdor Lieberman, the second most-powerful official in the predominantly right-wing ruling coalition, told reporters that he planned to raise his demand for curtailing ties with the Palestinian leadership at a meeting of the so-called inner cabinet, which includes the coalition's top eight ministers. He did not say when the meeting would take place.

"The Palestinian Authority is getting ready for bloodshed on a scale we haven't seen," Mr Lieberman, the head of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, said. "The more they speak about non-violent action, the more they are preparing for bloodshed."

The top Israeli diplomat, however, provided no proof of his assertions, although his spokesman later claimed they were drawn from intelligence reports and statements by Palestinian officials.

Mr Lieberman's comments reflected a growing anxiety on the part of Israel about the repercussions of the Palestinian plan to gain the UN's recognition of statehood without first reaching a peace accord with Israel. The Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has been intensively lobbying other countries to reject the Palestinian move, fearing it would weaken its hand in future negotiations over the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

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